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Top Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Veterinary Visit

September 30, 2009

Prepare for Your Visit to the Veterinarian

1. Come Prepared. Bring hard copies of previous records, x-rays, passports, and vaccine records. Special Tip: bring food ingredients from pet food, all vitamins or supplements or herbal remedies, shampoo, flea and tick products, and even toys and training treats so you can truly get the vet’s opinion regarding any of these items.  Hire a veterinary coach for complicated problems and write down your observations ahead of time.

2. Take your pet to the visit yourself. Or, have the person that knows your pet best be in charge of the visits.

3. If your dog bites, bring your own muzzle, or ask for one right away so your exam gets moving along. If your cat gets nervous, as most do, leave him in the pet carrier until the nurses are ready. Letting a cat wander around the exam room usually encourages self-defense when then veterinary team walks in.

4. If your pet has a skin or ear problem, do not wash or clean the skin or ears before the visit. You might wash away clues the vet needs to diagnose the problem.

5. Write down your observations and questions so you get to cover everything that you’ve been wondering about.

6. Call on your cell phone from the parking lot if you need help bringing your pet inside. Whether your pet cannot walk and needs to be carried, or your rambunctious puppy tries to pull your shoulder apart, call for help.

7. Ask for copies of your visit and any test results. If your vet has online record access, make sure you sign up.

8. Always ask if there are viable alternatives to any recommended tests or treatments. Your veterinary team should be able to tell you if there are alternatives, or explain why there are not.

9. Make your follow-up appointment before you leave. You’ll be more likely to remember, and you can ask for a reminder call, too.

10. Always ask to visit your pet when he or she is in the hospital. Ask to see where your pet will stay. Ask for a tour of the surgery and recovery area. If it cannot be arranged right away, go back for a tour. It’s worth it. If there is anything that does not look right to you or you do not understand, and reputable veterinary team will be thrilled to show you where they work and how everything works. Make sure you are comfortable.

Bonus 11.  Have a friend or relative you trust come to the visit and take notes.  Having a second set of eyes and ears really helps later, when you’re trying to figure out what the vet said!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 5:35 pm

    Another way to record your vet visits if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch is to download the Pet Health app from kavapoint. I use it for our pets so we can record all the vet visits and information in the iPhone. I guess you could use it to record other behaviors and odd things you see too.
    (Link works as of 10march10, VV)

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